17 July 2012

People are being asked their views on a new organisation being set up to improve health and social care services in Northamptonshire.

Called Healthwatch Northamptonshire, the new independent organisation will be commissioned by Northamptonshire County Council and set up as a social enterprise open to everyone.

It will bring together the views and experiences of Northamptonshire people to improve health and social care services as well as look at which groups and communities are not being heard and find ways for them to be represented.

The new organisation will gather views on a range of services provided by the public sector, by independent trusts or by voluntary or other contracted organisations delivering health and social care services. These include GPs, hospitals, council social care services, opticians, dentists, pharmacists, clinics, care homes, home care, children’s social care and more.

The government requires local Healthwatch organisations to be set up in each county by April 2013. They will replace the current system of local involvement networks (known as LINks)

Healthwatch will be the new consumer champion for health and social care in England and will take two forms - the local Healthwatch organisations and Healthwatch England at a national level. Consultation is now taking place to find out how individuals, groups and communities want to shape Healthwatch in the county.

Cabinet member for public health and adult social care Councillor Robin Brown, who is also chair of the shadow health and wellbeing board, said: “Through Healthwatch Northamptonshire, local people will be able to get more involved in helping to design and improve future health and social care services to meet the needs of people in the county.

“The new organisation will hold the NHS and local authorities to account for how effectively they plan and deliver public services and spend public money. It will also feed in to the national Healthwatch, which will bring together views of people who use health and social care services to inform and influence national policy.

“We want as many people as possible to take part in the consultation and tell us how they think Healthwatch should be set up in Northamptonshire so that it works for you and your communities.

“I want this to be an organisation local people want to be a part of and use so please take this opportunity to get involved.”

The consultation takes place until 14th September. As well as targeted focus groups, there will also be public workshops for anyone with an interest in Healthwatch. Places are limited so people should email acspublicengagement@northamptonshire.gov.uk or call 01604 368605 if they would like to attend:

- Thursday 19th July – Northamptonshire Association for the Blind, Wardington Court, Kingsthorpe 1.30pm to 4.30pm

- Friday 27th July – Cornmarket Hall, Bowling Green Road, Kettering, 9.30am to 12.30pm

- A third consultation event is being planned to take place in Daventry, details to be confirmed.

Full details about the consultation are available online at www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/healthwatchconsultation.